Thursday 20 January 2022, 07:41 AM
Kalvari and Vela Fade away
By IANS | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 5/15/2011 12:00:00 AM

Post independent India inherited a plan for the all round development of a sovereign and independent Indian Navy that included submarines. However, the acquisition of submarines was placed low on the priority list for many years, and it was only in the late sixties of the last century that the dream materialised. A skeleton crew went to the United Kingdom to train on Royal Navy submarines with a view to acquiring a certain class of submarines from them. Attempts to acquire the right kind of submarines from Britain came to nought, and India turned to the Soviet Union. The U.S.S.R offered what was known in the West as the &lsquo;Foxtrot&rsquo; Class submarine, and referred to in the Soviet Navy as the &lsquo;641&rsquo; Class. The terms under which they were offered were so good that the Indian Government did not look elsewhere.<br /> On 08 December 1967, the first of four Foxtrot Class submarines &ndash; INS Kalvari &ndash; was commissioned into the Indian Navy. By December 1969 the remaining three joined the Service even while a deal for another four, with improved equipment, was being processed. The first of the next four &ndash; INS Vela &ndash; was inducted on 31 August 1973 and the remaining three soon followed. The first four were referred to as the &lsquo;Kalvari Class&rsquo; and formed the 8th Submarine Squadron, based at Visakhapatnam. The latter four were referred to as the &lsquo;Vela Class&rsquo; and formed the 9th Submarine Squadron, based at Bombay (now Mumbai). The acquisition of a submarine tender &ndash; INS Amba &ndash; and a Submarine Rescue Vessel &ndash; INS Nistar &ndash; alongwith the setting up of a squadron base each in Bombay and Visakhapatnam put the operational requirements of the submarine arm of the Indian Navy firmly on tracks. The refit and maintenance requirements for these submarines did not keep pace with the acquisition speed, which saw some early difficulties in giving these boats their timely refits. These difficulties were eventually overcome, and the eight &lsquo;Foxtrots&rsquo; gave the Indian Navy yeoman service for decades. Before this year is over, the last of these stalwarts would have been decommissioned, and the saga of the pioneers will fade away into history. Below the North Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal in particular, peace-time operational patrols of many thousands of hours were executed on a regular basis to build up information that would prove useful in the event of hostilities. Three of them were operationally deployed during the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict and successfully carried out the tasks of containment assigned to them. During the last four decades, they steadily worked up the anti-submarine forces of the navy to their present high state of readiness to &lsquo;attend&rsquo; to unwelcome &lsquo;clandestine&rsquo; underwater visitors nosing around in our neighborhood. The &lsquo;magnificent eight&rsquo; taught our submariners and the Indian Navy the intricate nuances of undersea warfare patiently and progressively. They had very neat lines, looked sleek, and carried a formidable armament that included twenty two torpedoes (with ten torpedo tubes to fire from), or an equivalent number of sea mines. Compared to other conventional submarines, they were more habitable, despite having only two toilets (&lsquo;Heads&rsquo; - in naval parlance) for the near hundred (including trainees) personnel onboard! By design, they were very forgiving submarines with high redundancy built into their systems. Their ability to absorb and survive mishaps due to machinery or human failure was commendable. The West had acknowledged the &lsquo;Foxtrots&rsquo; as one of the most successful designs in their class in the era they operated in. They were designed to travel across vast expanse of seas, from the Soviet Union, and operate for long durations even as far off as the American coast. In the early nineteen sixties, many of them did. <br /> The &lsquo;Foxtrots&rsquo; have been succeeded by the German &lsquo;Shishumar&rsquo; Class and the Russian &lsquo;Kilo&rsquo; class and follow on submarines that now operate in the Indian Navy. Soon the nuclear propelled submarine &ndash; INS Arihant should also be joining the force. Unfortunately, the depot ship and the submarine rescue vessel &ndash; both decommissioned after their useful lives &ndash; have not been replaced, and the void is something the submariners are finding difficult to come to terms with. One of the Kalvari Class submarines &ndash; INS Kursura &ndash; is positioned on terra firma, on the main beach of Visakhapatnam, and is a museum that is open to all visitors to walk through, since August 2002. It is the only museum of its kind in this part of the world. The navy owes much to the Foxtrots that patrolled the underseas around our country, and served the nation with a quiet, unsung, efficiency that only submarines are known for. Let us salute these veterans and leave them for posterity to gain from their very existence and dedicated service through the past four decades.
(Courtesy : Purple Beret)



भारत डिफेंस कवच की नई हिन्दी पत्रिका ‘डिफेंस मॉनिटर’ का ताजा अंक ऊपर दर्शाया गया है। इसके पहले दस पन्ने आप मुफ्त देख सकते हैं। पूरी पत्रिका पढ़ने के लिए कुछ राशि का भुगतान करना होता है। पुराने अंक आप पूरी तरह फ्री पढ़ सकते हैं। पत्रिका के अंकों पर क्लिक करें और देखें। -संपादक

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